You are probably going to ask yourself, what kind of person would not post about a friend's new show at Hirschl & Adler Modern until 16 days after it opened, and 15 days before it closes? My answer to you is an idiot like myself who can't seem to find the time of day to get a post or two into a foolhardy weekly schedule filled with travel, teaching, clients and excuses. But enough about me.
I met Marc Dennis through friends Richard and Penny down at DUMBO's General Store last spring. With Marc's long time association with the area, sharing studio space with an old college soccer mate of mine (that's you Manny), and a mutual admiration for a pint or two, I don't know how it was possible that we hadn't met years ago. Regardless, when we did meet, we bonded like two old sailors stuck in Kansas.
Unlike his paintings, when Marc is observed from a typical viewing distance, he appears unrefined, a rough around the edges blue collar type armed with an unforgiving Massachusetts accent. From this perspective there is no romance in his style, flair to his dress or an apparent necessity for social niceties. For those unwilling to look further or engage (if Marc so chooses) they will miss the beauty, intelligence, knowledge, cutting humor and quick wit of this man who has slashed a distinct pathway to considered vision and creative passion.
As with Marc, his paintings are there for those who spend the time to engage. Taken at face value, his work seems simple and easy to understand as interesting subjects of nature's beauty deftly executed in a photorealistic manner. Both his large and small canvasses feature a rich pallete, powerful compositions and a depth that calls for the viewer to reach out and touch. BFD, right? No, not right. As with the person who sticks around to to discover the value and essence of Marc's words and character, so will the viewer who stays long enough to find the message and reward in his paintings.
For example, at the opening there was an older couple hovering around Diptych of Earthly Delights, an 2007 oil on canvas that measures 30 x 60 in, depicting an arial view of poppy flowers and buds. As the couple moved back and forth observing the buttock-like buds, the woman was overheard by Marc to say, "Are those anuses"? To which Marc replied in passing, "Yes, they are". Moving beyond gimmickry to deliver a dose of reality and humanity as evident in his Melodius Merrius Giganticus which transforms beautifully-rendered buds into a gaggle of curious pink characters with green snouts with the simple application of dots, or Venus Giganticus where mehndi/henna (Lawsonia inermis) styled stems lurk behind a foreground of gloriously patterned and detailed flowers.
I would be going out on a limb to state that to know Marc is to know his paintings or visa versa. However, I would say that in viewing these recent pieces that Marc has come to the conclusion that with all of his skill and artistry it would be a fruitless folly to try and fully capture the evolutionary beauty and intelligence of nature by applying pigment to canvas. By studying nature day in and day out he has found something most of us have missed. By dissecting and recreating nature he has discovered and connected his individual human nature and traits to his subject to create an intimate and knowledgeable relationship where the humor is an insider's joke between Marc and his subjects.
Anyway, my dad Bio Bob thinks Marc it the greatest thing since saprophytes and I don't think he is bad either. Marc, I owe you a few beers.
Shown above: Melodius Merrius Giganticus, 2007, oil on canvas, 50 x 50 in. Venus Giganticus, 2008, oil on canvas, 50 x 50 in.
Hirschl & Adler Modern, 21 East 70th Street, through March 15, 2008